by: Dora Wang, TINYpulse

It’s hard enough to start a new job. But if it’s also your first time in a leadership role, then your concerns can multiply. Not only do you need to learn the ropes of a new position, but you also have to manage an entire team on top of that.

But don’t worry — you can set yourself up for success by taking the right steps at the start.

Learn the Team, Not the Job Description

It’s natural to be a little nervous about being the new kid on the block. You might be hyper-focused on learning your responsibilities to make sure you don’t mess up. But don’t spend your time memorizing a list of duties. The people on your team are the ones you really need to become familiar with.

Set aside time to talk with each employee and learn what …

  • … they do: Get an understanding of what their roles and responsibilities are beyond the specifics of their job description. How do they fit into the processes and goals of the team? Who relies on their work, and whom do they rely on?
  • … they like: Gauge their interest in their current roles and responsibilities. A change of leadership can be a good opening to change things up to better match the team’s roles with their strengths.
  • … they plan to do: Ask them how they want to grow professionally. Even if they’re perfectly happy in their job, see how they want to develop their skills or take on new duties.

Once you really know your team, their strengths, and their weaknesses, you’ll be ready to lead them to success.

Be SMART About Goals

Set up goals for your team to aim for. Be proactive and don’t just coast along with the routine that was set up by the boss before you. Setting effective goals is one of the first and best ways you can lead your employees. These goals should be SMART — that is, they should follow the acronym below:

  • Specific: Focus on a discrete task so you know exactly what you’re aiming to tackle.
  • Measurable: How will you know if you achieved your goal? By making it measurable, you’ll have a clear benchmark to know if you’ve hit the target or if you still have work to do.
  • Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Create goals that you can actually achieve.
  • Relevant: Your goals should matter, so only choose goals that help further larger business objectives.
  • Time bound: Give yourself a fixed period of time to complete your goals to ward off procrastination.

SMART goals are easy to understand, easy to do, and easy to assess if they are truly complete. Ultimately, they’ll make it easier for your team to achieve your larger quarterly and even yearly objectives.

Don’t Expect Them to Be Mind Readers

You and each one of your employees come in with different experiences, so it’s better not to assume everyone’s playing by the same rules. Set expectations up front so there aren’t any misconceptions about what they’re responsible for or how you’ll evaluate them.

Clear communication will get you a happier team. How do we know? Findings from TINYpulse’s Employee Engagement Survey show that management transparency is the number one factor in determining employee happiness. Cut the guesswork, and your relationship with your team will flourish.

In return, of course, ask them to communicate clearly with you. Seek out their feedback on how you’re doing so you know what areas to work on. Make yourself available with an open-door policy, but also give them ways to submit anonymous feedback so they won’t feel too intimidated to be honest.

These steps will help you set up a foundation for success with your new team. And before you know it, you’ll be settled in your leadership role, and your apprehensions will be a thing of the past.


About Dora Wang

Dora is a Content Marketing Specialist at TINYpulse who writes and researches about ways to make employees happier. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

April 29, 2015


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